Riga, Mar 7 (EFE).- More help from the United States in breaking Latvia and other European countries’ dependence on Russian energy supplies is almost as important as improving air defense systems in the Baltic region and permanently deploying US and NATO troops, Latvia’s foreign minister said Monday.
Edgars Rinkevics was speaking at a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, at which he alluded to reports that the US was ready to send liquified natural gas (LNG) to European countries should Russia cut off gas supplies or be subjected to an energy export embargo because of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
The US “could play a critical role” in sharply reducing Europe’s dependence on Russia oil and gas, the Latvian Foreign Minister said.
While both officials said they had discussed stationing US or NATO troops permanently in the Baltic countries, there had been no decision. Rinkevics hinted the issue could be tabled at a Nato Summit in Madrid this summer.
Blinken said that Nato has significantly increased its forces in the region, citing additional troop deployments and the arrival of advanced F-35 combat aircraft to patrol the skies over the Baltics.
He repeated his message from other stopovers on his present visit to Europe that the US had already provided $1 billion in military and other aid to Ukraine and stressed that US president Joe Biden was asking for an additional $10 billion in military and humanitarian assistance to the war-torn country.
Blinken also affirmed that the US and Nato would not enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine, as this could lead to direct combat between the alliance and Russian aircraft. Such a conflict would not be in the interests of the people of Ukraine, he said.
The US secretary of state praised Latvia for sending Stinger missiles, anti-tank weapons and other military equipment to Ukraine. He called the Baltic countries “a democratic wall against the tide of autocracy that Russia is trying to push against Europe.”
Blinken, who visited the Lithuanian capital Vilnius earlier on Monday, will go on to meet with top officials in Estonia on Tuesday. In Latvia, he met with President Egils Levits and Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins. EFE